A big watch deserves a big birthday party, and the 18-karat red gold IWC Portugieser Automatic 5007-02 is one heck of a birthday present to devotees of the original “oversized watch.” Although prototyped in 1939, IWC has declared 2015 the official “75th Anniversary” of its iconic watch. This 5007 debuted at SIHH 2015, and it represented the latest and greatest refinement of a watch that’s become inextricably linked to the initials “IWC”
IWC of Schaffhausen, Switzerland is the foremost German-Swiss watchmaker. Founded by an American in 1868 and based far from the western Swiss (and Francophone) “Watch Valley,” IWC has a history of going its own way. For 2015, IWC reclaims the ancestral “Portugeiser” nomenclature of IWC’s native tongue.
In the 5007-02, IWC combines its legendary 42mm “Portuguese” case with an in-house 52000 series movement and 18-karat red gold.
Designed in 1939 at the behest of its Portuguese market import managers, the new machine was considered a monster. Engineered specifically to house a pocket watch movement (seen as essential to achieve accuracy in those days), the watch was over 33% larger than the typical men’s watch of the period.
It was considered a monster at the time, but history has vindicated its unconventional style and elevated the Portuguese to icon status. In an age that reveres large watches and considers sub-40mm cases downright dainty, the Portuguese is a style leader.
Within the famous case, IWC’s modern day Portuguese 5007-02 benefits from the refinement of the Schaffhausen firm’s in-house caliber 52010. Designed and constructed entirely by IWC, the movement boasts a 7-day power reserve and IWC’s famous mid-century “Pellaton” winding system. One of Swiss industry’s few stellar alternatives to the Rolex reversing wheels, the Pellaton system often has been imitated but never duplicated.
For 2015, the caliber 52010 in the Portugieser 5007’s winding mechanism has been upgraded to include a ceramic pawl wheel and ceramic pawls for improved longevity, efficiency, and reduced maintenance. The previous 3hz escapement has been upgraded to a 4hz *(28,800 VpH). In order to provide energy to maintain the previous 7-day power reserve, the single mainspring barrel has been upgraded to a twin barrel series arrangement. A new skeletonized barrel bridge opens the movement for greater visibility, and the winding rotor has been pared down for the same reason.
Finally, the impressive luster and weight of the 18-karat red gold case creates a true premium ownership experience. In the hand or on the wrist, the mass of this watch provides constant assurance of its substance and refinement. While not excessively heavy, the Portuguese Automatic in 18-karat red gold is impressively solid: think vintage Mercedes-Benz.